It’s lucky we’re thick-skinned.
As a web design agency we’re sometimes asked whether web design is really needed – surely if content is king, and web development is queen, web design is just a Great Pretender?
Let’s take a deep breath, count to 10 and look at what web design can achieve for your site – and the crucial role it plays in your online success.
Silent but deadly
It’s the quiet ones that can be the most effective, as any self-respecting ninja will tell you. Some of the best design can’t be seen, let alone admired.
It is designed to work, not to preen.
Of course there are the Taj Mahals out there that attract all the attention for their achingly beautiful perfection of form. But that’s just one type of design.
Steve Jobs, a man who knew a thing or two about design, once said:
“Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But, of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works.”
The best web design is not necessarily flamboyant – it is functional, perfectly functional. It works so well that it appears invisible. You don’t notice it – and that’s why its importance is so often overlooked. Yet, you’d quickly notice if it wasn’t there.
Let’s take a quick look at just what web design brings to your online party.
What web design brings to the table
Web design is more than just a pretty site.
While it is certainly important from an aesthetic point of view it works a lot harder than that. The best web design aids your SEO, your visitor’s dwell time, your company’s branding and your bottom line (via your conversion rates).
Indeed, your site’s web design will actually affect your entire internet presence.
A research study into the ‘Trust and Mistrust of Online Health Sites’ found something that might surprise you.
It found that design elements, as opposed to content, were much more powerful in terms of generating trust from visitors.
Not just fractionally more important – significantly so. When describing why they mistrusted a website, 94% of comments were directly related to web design elements. It is the principle here that is important: great design breeds trust. And without trust there can be no leads, prospects or sales.
The details, though, are also instructive. The following elements, if not designed well, can lead to a lack of trust in your brand’s online presence:
- Busy or complex layouts
- Repetitive pop-up advertisements or overly flamboyant ads
- Small print or poor text formatting that’s hard to read
- Uninspired web design or a lack of colour
- Slow website introductions or page load times
This is where the effect of design can appear ‘invisible’. It is, for example, instructive that the reason people said they trusted sites were mainly reasons related to quality content.
Yet, without the great design it would be a different story.
In today’s multi-device world responsive design, or at least mobile-friendly design, is essential to both user experience and your SEO.
Yet, there are many other ways that great design can enhance your SEO. Great navigation helps users find exactly what they are looking for and encourages them to further explore your site. And, of course, a happy user is something that Google is very quick to notice and reward.
Great web design will also structure your HTML to be search engine-friendly.
Design features such as these may not get noticed by you but they will make a significant difference to your site’s rankings.
Your website design is not your brand. Yet, it is a highly important part of how you communicate your brand values and, what’s more, it may often be the first place that many new potential customers encounter your brand.
Effective web design will ensure that your online presence reinforces your overall branding strategy and promotes trust and positive brand perceptions.
Design elements often lie at the heart of poor conversion rates. That’s a fact. By all means test your offering and your messaging, but neglect testing your design at your peril. How is it that design can affect conversion rates? Let’s consider just a few factors.
No-one likes a challenge when they have a goal in mind. Intuitive site structures encourage users to continue browsing and get to what they want.
- Calls to action
Design elements such as photos that ‘point to’ calls to action or prominent colours can radically increase the number of visitors who buy, sign-up or contact you.
Colour can be used to promote brand values and to highlight significant sections of your website. This is all part of the imperceptible work of design on your site.
Still not sure you need to focus on web design?
Trust, SEO, dwell time, engagement, branding and conversion: in a nutshell you have the complete customer journey from discovery to conversion. And design plays a critical role at every stage of your online presence.